From: "ARS News Service" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "ARS News List" <email@example.com>
Subject: Scientists Adapt DNA Test to Sugarbeet Fungal Pathogens
Date: Tue, Aug 31, 1999, 7:13 AM
Scientists Adapt DNA Test to Sugarbeet Fungal Pathogens
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Ben Hardin, (309) 681-6597, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 31, 1999
Sugarbeet growers may soon get a new tool for identifying fungi poised to
damage their crop. With the same basic technology used in diagnosing human
disease, Agricultural Research Service scientists developed a way to quickly
identify any of six major fungi types that attack U.S. sugarbeets. Each
disease can cause multimillion-dollar losses.
Developed at ARS' Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo,
N.D., the diagnostic process can be completed within 8 hours. Researchers
designed DNA probes that detect unique DNA segments for each fungal type.
Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the scientists reproduce millions of
copies of unique segments occurring in a plant tissue sample harboring
fungi. From the amplified DNA, they can quickly distinguish pathogens by a
"DNA fingerprint" generated when DNA is cut into pieces with an enzyme.
With PCR, scientists don't have to isolate fungi from diseased roots or
leaves and spend days culturing them before they're identified. Rapid
identification of offending microbes by their DNA would tip off growers to
the need for applying the most appropriate control measures before diseases
seriously curtail yields.
Further research aims at narrowing the fungi's identification by species as
well as genus. The scientists have already developed probes to distinguish
Aphanomyces cochlioides, which causes black root disease of sugarbeet, from
A. euteiches, which causes root rot in peas and other legumes. Other
sugarbeet fungi include Pythium ultimum, Cercospora beticola, Phoma betae,
Fusarium oxysporum and Rhizoctonia solani.
Another goal is to use the technology to analyze fungi in field soils as
well as plant samples. By knowing soil infestation levels, farmers could
better decide when and where to rotate crops.
ARS is USDA's chief research agency.
Scientific contact: John J. Weiland, Sugarbeet and Potato Research, ARS Red
River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo, N.D., phone (701)
239-1373; fax (701) 239-1349, email@example.com.
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